November 23, 2017

1942. Eagle Squadron Pilots Celebrate Aerial Victories

"I Got Him"
"American volunteer pilots of No.121 (Eagle) Squadron run to their aircraft at RAF Rochford in Essex, August 1942. Flying Officer Barry Mahon (left) and Flight Lieutenant Seldon R Edner run to their aircraft as they are given the order to scramble" (source)
United Press article from May 28, 1942:
"I Got Him," Shouts Returning Pilot
United Press Staff Correspondent

An Eagle Squadron Fighter Station, Somewhere in England — (UP) Fliers of the second American Eagle Squadron were sitting in a dispersal hut, listening to a phonograph grind "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" for the twentieth time.

It was late afternoon when the telephone rang and the man who answered it said, "Something's up."

The Eagles walked out, a couple blowing kisses at the picture of a pretty girl on the wall, saying, "See you later, toots."

The adjutant, the liaison officer and the dispersal officer immediately began to act like expectant fathers pacing the floor in a maternity ward. They couldn't be quiet until the Eagles returned.

Barry Mahon, 21, of Bakersfield, Calif., was the first to land, and he was grinning.

"I got him!" he said as he climbed from the Spitfire. "A stinking Focke-Wulf 190. I got him right in the sights 200 yards astern with at least a second and a half of cannon fire. But dammit, I couldn't see him crash. I was just too busy. But I got him okay. I was smoking like a chimney and heading for the sea."

Others now pouring in could confirm Mahon's bag. Shouting because they were still deaf from the motors' roar, they slapped each other's backs and carried on like a high school football team that had just won the state championship.

Fred Vance, 22, of Norfolk, Va., had had the narrowest escape and his face was still white. The Germans had hopped the Eagles when they dived on a minesweeper escorted by a destroyer. Vance was accompanied by Bill Daley, 23, of Amarillo, Tex.

Mahon and Bill Kelly of Saratoga, N. Y., a former Syracuse University football player, were flying together, and Gene Fetrow of Los Angeles was in the attack.

"Hell's bells!" Vance said. "I just dived at that minesweeper and looked around and there were five Focke-Wulfs on my tail. You should have seen that Spitfire. I tied it into a knot. Damned if I didn't get on the tail of three of them, and I know I got one and I'm pretty sure I shot up two more."

Kelly confirmed that Vance had got one.

Kelly broke in: "I think I got one, too, but I can't check. A Focke-Wulf was messing around with Vance and I swung into him head on. Pieces were falling off of him when I last saw him, heading toward the sea."

They also sank the minesweeper.